September 6, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News Elections Georgia: “Judge Again […]
National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe” by Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory” by Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FBI List Shows Empty Classified Folders, Secret Items Mixed with Mundane” by Perry Stein and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
New York: “Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan” by Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
September 2, 2022 •
The Idaho Legislature has adjourned after one day of deliberation, passing a $1 billion package to cut taxes and increase education funding. The bill allocates $500 million in tax rebates to be distributed to all Idahoans who filed taxes in […]
The Idaho Legislature has adjourned after one day of deliberation, passing a $1 billion package to cut taxes and increase education funding.
The bill allocates $500 million in tax rebates to be distributed to all Idahoans who filed taxes in 2020; reduces the state income tax rate to 5.8% while exempting the first $2,500 of income for all filers; and assigns $410 million for education funding.
This does affect lobbyist reporting.
A lobbyist activity report for the month of September will be due October 15.
September 2, 2022 •
National/Federal Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022 Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador […]
Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit
Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022
Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit as she lays the groundwork for a prospective 2024 presidential bid, according to previously unreported tax documents. Like other nonprofits, Stand For America files an annual tax return with the IRS. While the agency and the group must make those filings available to the public, including the amounts of contributions, such nonprofits do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. The group Documented obtained an unredacted copy of Stand For America’s 2019 filings.
Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law
National Public Radio – Tom Dreisbach | Published: 8/31/2022
Many figures connected to the failed plot to overturn the 2020 election have coalesced around an increasingly influential nonprofit – the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI). A review of records and leaked audio suggests CPI may be risking legal trouble over its tax-exempt status. Experts said the group appears to be pushing the boundaries of the law by entwining itself with explicitly Republican and pro-Donald Trump political organizations. As an IRS-recognized charity, CPI is exempt from certain taxes. That also gives donors the benefit of deducting their contributions at tax time. But those benefits come with some strings attached.
Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Some Fox News hosts are being compelled to answer questions about their coverage of the 2020 presidential election as a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems claims its reputation was ruined by the network’s airing of baseless allegations picks up steam. Lawyers for Dominion questioned Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson, while Sean Hannity and former host Lou Dobbs are scheduled for depositions. They are among the on-air personalities that Dominion says defamed it either by falsely claiming the company conspired to rig the election against Donald Trump or by repeatedly hosting guests who made such claims.
Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Justice Department political appointees cannot participate in campaign-related activities in any capacity, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, describing the change as necessary “to maintain public trust and ensure that politics … does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.” The new policy underscores the political scrutiny Garland is facing before the midterm elections, as his agency investigates former president Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office and the potential involvement of Trump and other GOP politicians in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2022
Former President Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging a “diligent search” had been conducted, leading to an FBI raid on his Florida home that found more than 100 additional classified items, according to a court filing. The filing traces government officials’ repeated efforts to recover national security papers from Trump’s residence, centered on a storage room where prosecutors came to suspect that “government records were likely concealed and removed … and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.
MSN – Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) | Published: 8/28/2022
Newspaper companies have been struggling to find their financial footing with the decline of print advertising. A recent study predicted one-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will go extinct by 2025. Another study found some 40,000 newspaper newsroom jobs vanished between 2008 and 2020. Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country with more than 200 daily newspapers and its flagship publication USA Today, has already been shedding jobs.
Trump’s Lawyers May Become Witnesses or Targets in Documents Investigation
Yahoo News – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
Two lawyers for former President Trump are likely to become witnesses or targets in the investigation into how he hoarded documents marked as classified at his Florida estate and secretly held onto some even after the lawyers claimed all sensitive materials had been returned, legal specialists said. Christina Bobb and M. Evan Corcoran handled Trump’s interactions with the government over a subpoena seeking additional material marked as classified. In a court filing, the Justice Department suggested people in Trump’s circle concealed documents in defiance of that subpoena, putting a spotlight on the lawyers’ actions.
Watchdog Probing Massachusetts US Attorney’s Fundraiser Trip
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer and Farnoush Amiri (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A watchdog agency is investigating whether Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor violated a law that limits political activity by government workers for attending a political fundraiser that featured First Lady Jill Biden. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it has opened an investigation into a potential violation Hatch Act after U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton raised concerns over U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ attendance at a July Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts.
When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they cannot do: “decertifying” the 2020 results. The bigger question, amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election, is exactly what powers they would have if they win this year. They could refuse to certify accurate election results, a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information
MSN – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 8/25/2022
The Alabama Ethics Commission will not reconsider a decision that it does not have to disclose potentially exculpatory information to targets of investigations. The state attorney general’s office asked the commission to reconsider the decision in July. Under state law, the ethics panel investigates complaints against public officials. It functions as a kind of grand jury. It does not prosecute individuals for ethics violations. If the commission finds probable cause that ethics violations took place, it refers the case to the attorney general’s office or a district attorney for possible prosecution.
Alaska – Democrat Mary Peltola Wins Special Election in Alaska, Defeating Palin
MSN – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 8/31/2022
Democrat Mary Peltola has won a special election for the U.S. House in Alaska, defeating Sarah Palin and becoming the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress as well as the first woman to clinch the state’s at-large district. Peltola’s win flips a seat that had long been in Republican hands. She will serve the remainder of a term left open by the sudden death of U.S. Rep. Don Young. For the moment, it helps Democrats expand their current narrow House majority and gives the party a better chance of winning the seat in the fall, according to at least one nonpartisan elections analyst.
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 8/24/2022
Arizonans will be able to vote in November on two controversial ballot measures even though petition circulators did not comply with the law. In separate orders, the state Supreme Court said those who gather signatures for money are required to register for each petition campaign for which they work. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said that did not happen in either the initiative to require disclosure of “dark money” in politics or another to cap medical debt payments. But Brutinel noted the office provided no procedure for those already registered to circulate other petitions to submit new registrations. The court agreed the signatures gathered by those who did not register anew should count.
California – A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board
MSN – Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/30/2022
A Sacramento school board member was reprimanded by her colleagues and ordered to undergo ethics training after a hotel employee accused her of trying to steal a red vase from the hotel lobby. Trustee Ericka Harden was filmed on security cameras at Embassy Suites, where she was attending a district-funded education leadership conference. On the video that hotel management sent the school district, Harden is seen walking out of the hotel with the vase. “This is to inform you of the altercation that has been encountered with your employee,” a hotel worker emailed the district. “The vase was returned as I did have to pull it out of her hands.”
California – California Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Their Staff to Unionize at the State Capitol
Yahoo News – Taryn Luna (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
For the fourth time in five years, the California Legislature rejected a bill to allow its staff to unionize, parting with other West Coast states that have approved similar legislation to try to improve workplace conditions and offset power imbalances between politicians and their legislative staff. For decades, legislative employees have not received the same right to unionize as other private and public sector workers despite the Democratic Legislature’s close ties with unions at the Capitol.
California – ‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network
CalMatters – Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher | Published: 8/26/2022
The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider new regulations more clearly defining coordination among affiliated campaign committees after the agency rejected a complaint against Govern For California. The complaint characterized the group’s network of independent committees as a “corporate structure that facilitates money laundering and vastly exceeds the contribution limits to candidates.” An investigation showed committees affiliated with Govern For California have come to play a prominent role in campaigns by making direct donations. Most of the funding to the chapters comes from the same group of 20 donors.
California – Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/26/2022
Federal prosecutors called it “a tale of greed as old as time” – a powerful San Francisco official at the heart of a web of kickbacks, bribery, and fraud that stretched across more than a decade. Mohammed Nuru, a former public works director, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption scheme that has ensnared at least a dozen San Francisco officials and business figures, eroded trust in City Hall, and led to an ongoing FBI investigation.
California – L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall
Yahoo News – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
Ten months after Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges, the council remains at odds over what should happen to his district – who should represent it and how that person should be selected. Heather Hutt has been the district’s caretaker since July, when a judge sidelined the council’s previous interim pick, former Councilperson Herb Wesson. Councilperson Monica Rodriguez, who opposed a vote on Hutt, said the council moved too swiftly last time it tried to fill the seat, selecting Wesson only to have two judges conclude he is ineligible because of term limits.
Delaware – Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge upheld two convictions against Delaware’s auditor for official misconduct and conflict-of-interest but tossed a jury’s third misdemeanor conviction for improperly structuring contract payments to a consulting firm. In issuing his decision, Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. rejected Kathy McGuiness’ request for a new trial. McGuiness, who as auditor is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, is the first statewide elected official in Delaware to be convicted on criminal charges while in office. She has maintained her innocence and is seeking re-election.
Florida – DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting
MSN – Matt Dixon (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office tried to blame local election supervisors for mistakes that could have allowed 20 people convicted of felonies to illegally vote. But the state’s election investigations chief previously absolved those local officials of any wrongdoing, according to documents. Pete Antonacci, who runs DeSantis’ elections investigation office, sent a letter on August 18 to the state’s elections supervisors saying they did nothing wrong when individuals convicted of murder and sex offenses voted in the 2020 election cycle.
Florida – Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe
MSN – David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/30/2022
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez surrendered to face criminal charges, as an arrest warrant reveals he is being accused of accepting $15,000 in exchange for sponsoring a bill five years ago to help a shopping plaza that had been repeatedly hit with fines for code violations. The legislation ultimately never passed and did not wind up being considered by the county commission. But under Florida’s unlawful compensation law, prosecutors do not need to show the public official’s “exercise of influence” for illegal pay was actually “accomplished,” only that it was attempted.
Florida – ‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava
MSN – Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/25/2022
Jeff Pitts’ political consulting firm was a conduit for millions of dollars secretly spent by Florida Power & Light (FPL) on political races since 2018, records show. In one case, the plan was to use Jonathan Burke as a spoiler candidate to drain votes from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Levine Cava, who had clashed with FPL over a nuclear power plant and force her into a runoff against her main opponent, Republican Gus Barreiro, a leaked text message suggests. Money from FPL covered Burke’s $60,000 salary and paid the rent on a $2,300-per-month home in Miami-Dade’s District 8, according to records.
Florida – Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/29/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris is on trial, accused of contributing in his cousin’s name to independent “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign in 2020. Paris is facing a misdemeanor charge in the scheme, which apparently was an attempt to aid Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, who was Paris’s boss at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce at the time of the race. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of his former employee’s actions.
Georgia – Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election
MSN – Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 8/29/2022
The judge presiding over the Georgia grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies denied a motion from Gov. Brian Kemp to quash a subpoena requiring him to testify. But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney delayed Kemp’s appearance before the grand jury until “some date soon after” Election Day in November. Kemp, who is running for reelection against Stacey Abrams, has alleged the investigation is politically motivated.
Hawaii – Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 8/26/2022
When Jan Yamane was hired by the Honolulu Ethics Commission in 2016, she was leaving the state auditor’s office where employees accused her of operating a hostile work environment that was plagued by favoritism, low morale, and harassment. The state attorney general’s office fought for years to keep the details secret. It only became public recently after a years-long legal fight. Yamane has now spent six years heading the city’s watchdog agency which, among other things, handles complaints about misconduct that may be similar in nature to what Yamane was accused of doing.
Idaho – Former Idaho Lawmaker Sentenced to 20 Years’ Prison for Rape
Yahoo News – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A former Idaho lawmaker convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime. Aaron von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he will be eligible for parole. Von Ehlinger was convicted of felony rape in April, roughly a year after he resigned from his House seat after an ethics committee recommended that he be banned from the statehouse. Von Ehlinger’s supporters publicized the intern’s name, photo, and personal details about her life after she reported the rape, and repeatedly harassed her.
Illinois – DeVore Loan Ends Contribution Caps in Illinois AG Race
Patabook.com – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/1/2022
Illinois attorney general nominee Thomas DeVore loaned his campaign $250,001, a move that opens the door to unlimited contributions in the race with incumbent Kwame Raoul. Under state law, contribution limits are lifted when a candidate for statewide office donates more than $250,000 to his campaign. Until then, the limits range from $6,000 for individuals to $239,900 for political party contributions to candidates statewide.
Illinois – Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts
Better Government Association – David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer | Published: 8/30/2022
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation found. In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts. The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”
Indiana – Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws
Journal Gazette – Brett Stover | Published: 8/28/2022
Indiana has the least restrictive campaign finance laws in the country, a new study shows. The Coalition for Integrity, which that focuses on corruption and transparency, released its first-ever State Campaign Finance Index this summer. The index examines laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including regulations on campaign coordination and limits on expenditures. The report highlighted the state’s lack of a cap on individual contributions. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp Jr. sees that lack of individual contribution regulation as one of the best parts of Indiana’s campaign finance laws.
Kentucky – Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot
MSN – Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 8/29/2022
Two Scott County residents filed a civil lawsuit to remove Rob Johnson from the ballot as 14th Circuit judicial candidate. Johnson is married to 14th Judicial Circuit Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Mus. Plaintiffs say this creates a situation where Johnson could not perform the majority of the constitutional duties of the position for which he seeks election unless he violates the Judicial Canons of Ethics.
Maryland – Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 8/27/2022
An ethics report that targeted Prince George’s County school board members was unreliable, included “factually inaccurate” information, and omitted key exonerating statements from witnesses, Maryland’s education watchdog said. The error-riddled reports completed last year by a county school board ethics advisory panel and leaked to some community members, accused seven school board members of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Michigan Elections Panel Deadlocks, Leaving Abortion Rights Proposal Off Ballot
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state. The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot. But the Reproductive Freedom for All plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters as election officials prepare to send out ballots next month. The Board of Canvassers’ two Republican members said organizers circulated a petition to collect voter signatures that was riddled with errors the board could not approve.
Michigan – Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Federal prosecutors alleged he defrauded campaign donors who thought the money would be spent on re-election expenses. Instead, prosecutors say he spent the money on his daughter’s wedding, a Florida vacation, flowers, a $4,500 alcohol bill, and dues and expenses at the Belleville Yacht Club.
Michigan – Who Controls Where and When You See Political Ads? It’s Complicated.
MLive.com – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/1/2022
Online outrage was sparked after a journalist noticed a 30-second advertisement, which alleges Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon believes there should be a total ban on abortion even in the instances of rape or incest, interrupted a children’s cartoon being streamed on Hulu. The streaming service only began running political ads this year after backlash when it initially refused to run ads from Democratic groups. Political scientist Ken Miller said the ad may not have been intended to land in a children’s show but could have a similar effect as if it had been placed during the evening news.
New Jersey – Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 8/30/2022
Resolutions are a popular way for state lawmakers to butter up constituents, grab headlines, or publicize their positions on federal issues or other matters over which they wield little control. So far this legislative session, resolutions represent about 10 person of all legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly. But only 22 resolutions, less than three percent of those introduced, have passed this year. John Froonjian of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, said some resolutions pushed by lawmakers “are not exactly heavyweight public policy,” and he thinks the public can rightly question, “What’s the point?”
New York – Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees
archive.today – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been taking money from appointees of the governor, despite an executive order designed to prevent it. In her first year in office, Hochul has accepted more than $400,000 from appointees on boards across the state as well as the appointees’ spouses, a New York Times analysis found. Hochul’s campaign said it was appropriate to accept the contributions because they came from people appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. The argument underscored a loophole in the ethics order that would seem to allow one governor to accept money from another governor’s board and commission appointees.
Pennsylvania – Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade
Spotlight PA – Kate Huangpu | Published: 8/29/2022
An initiative to improve the online system in Pennsylvania that lobbyists use to disclose which organizations have hired them and how they spend money got a boost in this year’s state budget. A line item listed only as “Lobbying Disclosure” under the Department of State’s general appropriations is funded at $714,000 for the fiscal year that started in July, a 150 percent increase over the previous year. A Department of State spokesperson said the money will fund an IT upgrade to a system that has been criticized as lagging, unintuitive, and often down.
South Dakota – ‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board
Fargo Forum – Jason Hayward | Published: 8/30/2022
A recent meeting of the Government Accountability Board, where it moved on two complaints against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, was the latest in a series of unprecedented events for the board, which was created in response to a series of scandals and an initiated measure. This is the first set of complaints the board has not simply dismissed, meaning the details of the process for a possible contested case must be figured out on the fly. The confidentiality inherent to the board’s process was undermined by Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who brought the complaints public during a feud with Noem over her calling for his impeachment.
Virginia – Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit that sought to declare two books as obscene for children and to restrict their distribution to minors, including by booksellers and libraries. The books in question were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “A Court of Mist and Fury.” State Del. Tim Anderson filed the suit on behalf of former GOP congressional candidate Tommy Altman. They characterized it as part of a broader effort to strengthen parental control over what children read, while critics denounced it as old-fashioned censorship. The hearing focused less on the merits of the books or First Amendment issues and more on flaws with Virginia’s obscenity law.
Washington DC – D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman
DCist – Callan Tansill-Suddath | Published: 8/26/2022
The Office of Campaign Finance confirmed it will investigate a complaint against District of Columbia Councilperson Elissa Silverman. The complaint says Silverman conducted a telephone poll of residents in Ward 3 ahead of the June 21 primary election and discussed the results with her preferred candidate in the race. That amounted to improper coordination between campaigns and an in-kind campaign contribution that should have been reported, according to the complaint.
Wisconsin – Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation
Yahoo News – Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was sentenced to 30 days in custody as a condition of three years’ probation following her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. Lewis was removed from office after pleading guilty to a count of misconduct in public office and no contest to a count of intentionally accepting an illegal campaign finance disbursement. Prosecutors said she took at least $21,666 in campaign funds and false travel reimbursements from the city between 2016 and 2020.
September 1, 2022 •
New Hampshire Lawmakers will return to session on September 15 to decide whether to override eight vetoes issued by Gov. Sununu. Because the veto session follows the state’s primary elections, some senators and representatives may participate even after losing their […]
New Hampshire Lawmakers will return to session on September 15 to decide whether to override eight vetoes issued by Gov. Sununu.
Because the veto session follows the state’s primary elections, some senators and representatives may participate even after losing their primaries.
In addition to considering veto overrides, lawmakers will also consider new legislation related to fuel assistance payments.
September 1, 2022 •
The California State Legislature has adjourned for the year, but not before passing several bills concerning lobbying, campaign finance, and procurement in the twilight hours of the session. Among the bills currently awaiting signature by Gov. Gavin Newsom are Senate […]
The California State Legislature has adjourned for the year, but not before passing several bills concerning lobbying, campaign finance, and procurement in the twilight hours of the session.
Among the bills currently awaiting signature by Gov. Gavin Newsom are Senate Bill 459 and Senate Bill 1360.
Senate Bill 459 requires lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers to include information in the quarterly reports that identifies each bill or administrative action lobbied.
Senate Bill 459 also requires lobbying firms to file additional disclosures for lobbying activity during the last 60 days of a scheduled legislative session and requires specified reports for issue lobbying advertisements if a person spends $5,000 or more in a calendar quarter.
Senate Bill 1360 requires certain political advertisements to identify the top contributors to the campaign committee paying for the advertisement without regard to any minimum contribution threshold.
The bill also makes additional changes to the disclosure requirements for political advertisements, including changes to the required form, content, and presentation of the disclosures depending on the medium in which the advertisement appears.
September 1, 2022 •
The special session of the Missouri Legislature scheduled to begin on September 6, has been postponed until September 14. Lawmakers need more time to deliver on Gov. Mike Parson’s plan for income tax cuts and tax incentives for the agriculture […]
The special session of the Missouri Legislature scheduled to begin on September 6, has been postponed until September 14.
Lawmakers need more time to deliver on Gov. Mike Parson’s plan for income tax cuts and tax incentives for the agriculture industry.
September 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for […]
National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio
New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for archive.today
Florida: “DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting” by Matt Dixon (Politico) for MSN
Kentucky: “Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot” by Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Delaware: “Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions” by Randall Chase (Associated Press) for MSN
South Dakota: “‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board” by Jason Hayward for Fargo Forum
Virginia: “Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
California: “L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
August 31, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News Elections National: […]
National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News
National: “Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case” by Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.” by Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board” by Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Florida: “Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe” by David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) for MSN
Illinois: “Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts” by David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer for Better Government Association
New Jersey: “Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?” by Dana DiFilippo for New Jersey Monitor
August 30, 2022 •
To the Good Morning Man – For nearly a decade here in Washington, D.C. on the corner of 15th and K Streets sat a man who would blow his whistle very loudly and proclaim “Goooooddddd Morninnnggg!” to everyone that walked by […]
To the Good Morning Man – For nearly a decade here in Washington, D.C. on the corner of 15th and K Streets sat a man who would blow his whistle very loudly and proclaim “Goooooddddd Morninnnggg!” to everyone that walked by – I’m telling you he blew that whistle about as loud as it could blow! You could hear him yell, “Good Morning Young Lady!” or “Good Morning Young Man!”. It would have been almost comical to see this had it not been for the fact that I suspected that he was a homeless man who just decided to pass his time away engaging with folks via his whistle and his cheerful voice!
You’ll notice that I’ve written this piece in the past tense, because, yes, unfortunately, I found out that “The Good Morning Man” passed away on July 29th from liver cancer. A news alert came through my phone noting this, along with the story of the man who once was known as Larry Tutt – a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from PTSD and lived a life that was plagued by drugs, mental illness and a decade in jail on a burglary conviction. As it turns out, according to a Washington Post article on Mr. Tutt, he was not homeless, but in fact rode the Metro each morning at 5:00am to head down to the corner of 15th and K Streets, an area in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s lawyer and lobby district, to bring a little cheer to everyone who walked by…
A few weeks ago, I was walking by that area and noticed that Mr. Tutt wasn’t there… There is scaffolding around the buildings located there, so I figured he just moved himself to another corner, though in the back of my mind, that explanation never really did seem comforting. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that sometimes I would avoid walking passed 15th and K Streets because I would say to myself, “I don’t feel like hearing that loud whistle in my ear this morning!”. Little did I know how much I would miss hearing those sounds now that I’ll never get the chance to hear them again, nor to engage Mr. Tutt outside of just a friendly “Hello” as I kept on walking about my business – what I would do now to have one more opportunity just to talk to him and hear his story!
What a valuable lesson! Do take the time to engage with people at every opportunity – you will be surprised at what you’ll likely learn from one another, and oh what wonderful things you’ll have in common! Rest In Peace now Mr. Tutt, “Mr. Good Morning Man” — well deserved!
For more information on the life of Larry Tutt, see the Washington Post article referenced in this piece here.
Until Next Time!
August 30, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of […]
Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette
Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman” by Callan Tansill-Suddath for DCist
National: “When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election” by Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Documents Already Examined by FBI, Justice Dept. Tells Judge” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade” by Kate Huangpu for Spotlight PA
August 29, 2022 •
Lawmakers ended a three-day special session by passing a $213 million package for flood recovery and a plan to help schools in eastern Kentucky. Signed into law by Gov. Beshear on Friday, the law establishes the East Kentucky State Aid […]
Lawmakers ended a three-day special session by passing a $213 million package for flood recovery and a plan to help schools in eastern Kentucky.
Signed into law by Gov. Beshear on Friday, the law establishes the East Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (EKSAFE), to assist counties named in the federal declaration.
Legislators emphasized this is the first step and they expect additional legislation next year when lawmakers meet in regular session.
The General Assembly is scheduled to convene for the 2023 regular session on Jan 3.
August 29, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network” by Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher for CalMatters Florida: “‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a […]
California: “‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network” by Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher for CalMatters
Florida: “‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava” by Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC
National: “Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Says Many Witnesses Interviewed, 184 Classified Files Returned in January” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information” by Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) for MSN
Hawaii: “Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Maryland: “Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable” by Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation” by Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for MSN
August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
August 25, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Elections Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” […]
National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” by Don Thompson (Associated Press) for MSN
North Carolina: “N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says” by Alan Feuer (New York Times) for Minneapolis Star Tribune
Missouri: “Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges” by Joel Currier for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New Jersey: “Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics” by Sophie Nieto-Munoz for New Jersey Monitor
National: “Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters” by Megan O’Matz for ProPublica
Ohio: “The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’” by Zurie Pope for Ohio Capital Journal
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.